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Toxic lead legacy of unwanted shooting range

Green Party leader Steven Agnew MLA has today, Thursday 9 September, spoken of his objections to proposals for an outdoor shooting range in Bangor.

Steven Agnew MLA said,

“I have many genuine concerns about this proposed shooting range and have been working with local residents to represent them as they fight this planning application.

“There will undoubtedly be noise affecting the local residents in the surrounding area. Loaded guns always pose a safety risk.

“Lead contamination in the land from the discharged bullets and subsequent pollution of the ecosystem is a real possibility.

“Effectively, we will see the industrialisation of a greenfield site and it will be costly to remove stray bullets and lead contamination will result in a toxic legacy should the gun club move on.

“Bangor is a largely urban area and we need to protect what green spaces we have. I find it bizarre that this gun club needs new premises given that they already have access to the recently re-vamped, at taxpayers’ expense, Council-owned indoor shooting range on Hamilton Road.”

The new outdoor shooting range has been proposed for agricultural lands at Ballymacormick Road. It is a green field site surrounded by residential areas and adjacent land is used for recreation.

Simon Wood, who lives nearby, has lodged a comprehensive objection to the planning application.

Speaking about his concerns Simon Wood said,

“This land is clearly designated for agricultural use. Contamination of the soil in the shooting range from misfired bullets entering the ground will contaminate the field for years to come. This, in turn, will contaminate both the food chain and groundwater.

“Lead is toxic within the bloodstream at much lower levels than previously thought and so the lead from bullets presents a real health risk.

“Ground contaminated by lead in this manner cannot be used for agriculture in the future.

“Quite frankly, I do not see any need to site the shooting range in this area and there are other more suitable locations in the vicinity.”

Ends

PICTURE CAPTION: Ballymacormick resident Simon Wood discusses concerns over lead poisoning with North Down MLA Steven Agnew at the site of the proposed shooting range

Notes to editors

1. Planning Application LA06/2016/0523/F has been lodged by Clandeboye and District USC Rifle and Pistol Club for an outdoor target shooting range with club house target store and firing shelter with new access and car parking area

2. The site is approximately 100m North East Of No.78 Ballymacormick Road Bangor BT19 6AD

3. Research has shown that each bullet fired into the ground can transfer up to 41mg of lead into the soil (Hardison, Ma et al).

4. Most recent UK Soil Guideline Values (SGV’s) allow a maximum of 276mg/kg of lead in soil before soils become hazardous to health, thus 6 bullets fired into the soil will “contaminate” one kg of soil.

5. It should be noted, however, that the toxicology report from which this SGV was derived has actually been withdrawn by the Environment Agency as new research has shown that lead is toxic within the bloodstream at much lower levels than previously though.

6. The new lower threshold values and toxicology data for lead have not currently been issued. As such, the presence and build up of lead within the soils is a significant issue.

7. Further, the abraded lead (Pb) which is generated from the bullets passing into the soils “is rapidly con‐verted to Pb‐minerals, and may pose a risk to groundwater contamination in shooting range soils”. (Hardison, Ma et al.) and that “Pb transformation (from inert metallic Pb to more reactive Pb compounds) in shooting range soils occurs rapidly in newly opened ranges.

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